Everyone breaks up…but you don’t have to break down — Ryan Trotti’s “Thank You For Breaking My Heart”

You were born in Florida, but raised in Springfield, South Carolina. You are a big fan of the South Carolina Gamecocks. The team’s rivalry with Clemson is one of the biggest in the South and in all of college football. What’s a favorite memory from one of these yearly match ups?

My favorite memory would hands down be the 5 year streak we had of beating Clemson under Coach Steve Spurrier. That was such an amazing time to be a Gamecock!

Your bio states, “If Sam Hunt and Johnny Cash had a music baby, godfathered by Eminem.” What are your favorite songs from each of these artists?

It’s funny, my favorite songs always change, depending on my mood, but if I had to pick I’d say my favorite Cash song to listen to is “One Piece at a Time,” but my version of “Folsom Prison Blues” is definitely my favorite Johnny Cash song to perform live. I like several of Sam Hunt’s, but the one I seem to listen to the most is “2016.” As far as Eminem, my favorite is “Brain Damage.” Good luck profiling me based on those ha ha.

Mama Trotti, your biggest fan, showed you how to play a little blues riff on the piano when you were in third grade. From there you taught yourself new chords and learned songs. “Always Be Your Son” was inspired by your mother’s journey from being a young, fresh faced, All-American girl next door, to having you at a young age. What was it like playing the song for her the first time?

Oh wow…that’s actually a really awesome story. So, being a songwriter, I’ve written songs for and about just about everybody and every situation in my life, but despite my mom being my biggest fan, best friend, and most significant influence, I had not written a song for or about her. She always used to tease me saying “When are you going to write a song about mama?” or “When am I gonna get MY song ha ha?” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write her one, obviously. I mean, if anyone deserved it or should have had their own song it was most definitely Mama Trotti. It was just that I wanted it to be special. I wanted it to be organic and not be forced or generic, like “Ok, here’s ya song.” I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t starting to feel a little self-induced pressure to write her a really good song.

Well, as fate would have it, one morning — when I was getting ready for work and not remotely close to being in a songwriting mode — I started just kind of humming random notes as I was making my coffee, as I’d done many times before. Well, out of nowhere this melody kind of just came out and stuck, and before I knew it the first actual words out of my mouth were “you’ll always be my sunshine, and I’ll always be your son,” which ultimately would provide the main direction of the song. I immediately got chills and knew instantly “this is Mama’s song!”

Needless to say, I was worthless that day at work ha ha. All I could think about was finishing that song. I kept singing it over and over, little by little adding little lines and melodies. I think all in, it probably just took a few hours total to finish it, but spread over the span of a few days.

This was in February of 2017, and after I finished writing it, I said, “I’m going to have this fully produced and recorded and surprise her with it for Mother’s Day.”

Well, I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to keep that a secret from her, because she’s the type that seems to know more about my career than I do sometimes. So, one night we were talking on the phone like we always do, and I almost inadvertently let her know! We were talking about whatever and I said something like “Yeah, I just wrote this awesome new song.” I knew right then I messed up because she was like “Omg what is it? What’s it about? Can I hear a little bit of it?” etc.

Well, I couldn’t just say no, or not give her something, because she would have known then something was up, so thankfully I had been working on this other song called “Difficult Roads” and I quickly used that as a cover up and threw her off the scent.

Fast forward to Mother’s Day. My sister and brother kept asking me what I had gotten Mom for Mother’s Day, and they thought it was super odd that I wouldn’t tell them. They figured it was perfume or the usual Mom gift. I said, “Guys, I don’t know what y’all got Mom, but I need y’all to go first.” HA HA! I knew they weren’t going to want to follow my gift on this particular Mother’s Day.

I had a bluetooth speaker paired up with my phone, and it was sitting on the coffee table in front of the couch. We were all gathered in the living room and I had the song queued up on my phone. I had handwritten the lyrics in a Mother’s Day card, so as she opened it and started reading it, the song started playing and the words obviously began to sync up in her head. All of a sudden it dawned on her what it was, and she was like, “OMG THIS IS MY SONG!”

Of course she started crying, which I thought was a perfect time to put it on Facebook Live in front of all my friends and embarrass her ha ha. I mean, that’s what sons are for, right? I’m pretty sure my brother and sister were tearing up too. It was a very special moment, and I have no doubt they were happy I had them go first lol.

After learning that little blues riff, you began playing multiple instruments that were learned ‘by ear,’ including the drums, guitar, and some brass. Using a basic Yamaha keyboard, made your first tracks on a dual cassette karaoke machine. You’ve moved on to studio sessions with rock bands (Crossfade) and hip-hop artists. What has been the most challenging part of mastering tracks?

Well, I’m not really a mastering engineer. I think that’s just an amazing skill and art all unto itself and those folks definitely earn their money. I was more of a producer. Some was hands-on, tracking, actually laying down ideas, etc. and some of it was more on the creative side, like “sing it this way,” or “let’s use this instrument here,” “take out the drums there,” etc. I’ve always just seemed to have a natural feel for how music should sound and flow. I’d say for me, the most difficult part is overthinking and overanalyzing things. Paralysis by analysis is a real thing.

You left a safe, established, 12 year career as a financial advisor in 2017 to pursue a full-time career in music. Two years later you were named the Carolina Country Music Awards Entertainer of the Year after releasing “Too Much of a Good Thang.” Which Carolina venues have been your favorites to play?

My band and I have been very blessed and feel fortunate to have played some of the best venues not only in the Carolinas, but in the country as well. In fact, at the end of 2019 going in to 2020, right before Covid shut down the industry, the 2020 ACM Awards had a venue category for “Club of the Year,’’ which were Coyote Joe’s — Charlotte, NC; Grizzly Rose — Denver, CO; Loser’s Bar & Grill — Nashville, TN (Las Vegas too); Joe’s Live — Rosemont, IL; Billy Bob’s Texas — Fort Worth, TX.

By the end of 2019, we had played 3 out of the ACM’s top 5 country venues across the country! I was pretty amazed by that. I couldn’t believe it, but when I looked at the list I realized we had played Coyote Joe’s, Grizzly Rose, and Loser’s.

As far as the Carolinas go, we were very honored to have been booked two years in a row at the Carolina Country Music Festival in Myrtle Beach, SC. We played there in 2018 (when Morgan Wallen was there on the B stage) and again in 2019. We also loved playing at Coyote Joe’s right here in my backyard of Charlotte, NC. The Carolinas have so many good venues it’s hard to name a favorite. We’re really partial to The Boathouse in Myrtle Beach, SC; Carolina Western Pub in Columbia, SC; Skyline Club in Columbia, SC; BoatYard LKN in Cornelius, NC; The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC…there’s just so many we love!

Obviously, 2019 was a huge year for us, and despite covid slowing everyone’s momentum down in 2020, we’ve been able to hit the ground running and pick up right where we left off. We’re very fortunate and very grateful.

EDM, hip-hop, rock, pop, country. Opening for Chase Rice, Eli Young Band, Montgomery Gentry, Cody Webb, Doug McCormick, Carter Winter, Tyler Hammond, Jon Langston, Barns Courtney, Capital Cities, and Flo Rida. Can you share some of the best career tips these artists have shared with you?

They’re all such different artists…I’d say the main thing I’ve gained from being around such a diverse group of musicians is that it’s ok to be yourself and not feel like you need to be confined to a box. There’s 8 billion people in the world…somebody, somewhere, is going to like your music, no matter what it is lol.

Everyone breaks up…but you don’t have to break down. Your current single, “Thank You for Breaking My Heart,” was produced by Kevin Beamish. ‘Thank you for the need to wake up every day and be motivated” … what inspired you to write this song?

I was dating a girl from Charlotte, who cheered for our NBA basketball team, and when we broke up, I just felt so insecure about myself. In my eyes, dating an NBA cheerleader was pretty cool and was kind of one of those “you don’t get this chance everyday” type situations. I just felt like I wanted to prove to myself (and to her) that I was just as good of a catch too, so I began this journey of self improvement. I was never really “bad,” but there were definitely areas in my life that needed improving. Although I’ve never smoked, most of that song is a true story.

One day I woke up and realized I was in a much better place, mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. and it was all because we broke up. So, rather than being resentful and bitter, I decided to be grateful for going through it.

Taking advantage of downtime during the pandemic shutdown in 2020 to focus on writing new material and recording 18 of the songs last year. When will you be releasing more of the new music?

My plan is to release new singles all throughout 2022. My team and I are looking to release a new song every 2 months or so.

You shared your Mama’s Secret Christmas ham recipe and that you make awesome cheese grits. Any other favorite Trotti family recipes to share?

Ha ha…that ham is something else! People think it’s a joke, but that’s really how it is…just pour some cheap Mt. Dew or Coke over it and let it cook! Hands down the best ham ever!

I’m half Italian, so I probably need to know more recipes than I currently do lol. I’ll get back to you on those, but my cheese grits are everything!

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